Break the Hardware Upgrade Cycle with Win4Lin Windows Virtual Desktop Server

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Smooth Migration to Linux by delivering Windows to Linux clients via Win4Lin VDS.

Win4Lin Virtual Desktop Server (www.win4lin.com) is a client/server virtualization solution that can be used to migrate an organization from an expensive and high-maintenance Windows infrastructure to a more robust and sleeker Linux base gently. How? A single copy of Windows can be delivered directly to multiple users' desktops with the click of a mouse. You don't want your users to have a full Windows desktop? No problem. Virtual Desktop Server (VDS) can be configured to deliver a single application to the Linux desktop instead. Given its flexibility, it's not surprising that the reasons for using VDS to move to a Linux infrastructure are equally as varied.

Linux server requirements are generally lower than those of Windows servers. Therefore, Win4Lin VDS can be used to break the hardware upgrade cycle. With Vista on the horizon, many organizations are faced with potentially costly hardware upgrades in the next few years.

Although arguments can be made on either side of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) issue, organizations that have come to the conclusion that Linux offers a lower TCO are then faced with the technical and logistical burdens of migrating their infrastructure. VDS allows the baseline software swap to occur while still allowing employees to continue using their familiar Windows environment and applications.

VDS offers organizations indefinite breathing room. Once the OS baseline has been swapped out, organizations can choose to remain in the Linux/Windows VM posture, or they can carry on with the business of sourcing or porting Linux solutions to their functional applications.

VDS offers “single application” deployment to the desktop, meaning that single mission-critical apps need not ever be ported. Single Windows applications can be launched right into the client Linux desktop.

Aside from the infrastructure questions, running a VDS server allows for a centralized point of management, upgrades and maintenance. Because all clients are being served the same Windows image, single changes on the server end mean rapid organization-wide change.

Existing Windows licenses can continue to be used under their respective terms.

VDS is different from a lot of client/server virtual machine (VM) solutions on the market. Most VM server products simply provide a remote display to the client, whereas VDS provides a proper client/server X Window System display to the client. If the client cannot support X Protocol messages, the alternative “display” methods can be used via traditional Virtual Network Connection or Tarantella, which really opens up the door for pretty much any client with a recent Web browser installed on it.

One of the main tasks for many Windows administrators is keeping Windows patched and updated in order to protect clients from the many spyware and malware attacks perpetrated against hapless Windows machines on a daily basis. As mentioned, VDS offers a single instance of Windows to patch and upgrade, which not only takes less time, but also offers more simplicity than staging patches throughout the organization. Further, because the end users' environment is a product of a combination of the master Windows image and their own locally stored settings, simply logging off and logging back in refreshes their session with the master image and thus eliminates any running malware or spyware in their session.

Clients

Win4Lin recommends using the native Win4Lin Terminal Services Client in order to make use of all the advanced functionality a native Win4Lin client/server connection offers. However, there are a plethora of ways to connect to a VDS server, and unless you're desperately in need of seamless printing, almost any client will get the job done.

Connection to a VDS server is possible with Telnet, rlogin or SSH (with X11 forwarding enabled). For Telnet and rlogin, the {$DISPLAY} environment variable must be set correctly. In general, the remote login options are suitable only for high-speed environments, such as local LANs. WAN and consumer-grade high-speed Internet connections do not generally provide enough bandwidth to use these methods. Connections also are possible using the RealVNC client, the NoMachine client and Tarantella.

In short, if you can't find a way to connect to the VDS, you're simply not trying.

Licensing

A base license starts at $2,500 US for 25 seats. Bump licenses can be obtained in various increments to enable VDS to handle up to 1,000 users. Whether your server can handle 1,000 users is up to you to decide. It's important to note that these are licenses for VDS and not for Windows. Organizations will have to provide their own Windows licenses under Microsoft's conditions. In most cases, however, existing licenses can be used.

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